Cherie Currie - Harriet Himmel Theater, West Palm Beach - August 30
Cherie Currie has truly earned her place in the annals of rock history. The legend of the Runaways should require no further introduction at this point, however, Currie's own legend is one still being penned. Last night, Currie came out swinging with a reminder that the spirit of rock 'n' roll knows no age, and that even the challenge of a less-than-ideal environment can be overcome if you play the riffs loud enough.
The Harriet Himmel Theater in West Palm's City Place is a lovely venue with high ceilings, intricate appointments, classy chandeliers, and is really one of the very last places you'd expect a high octane rock 'n' roll show to breathe. There were chairs set out on the floor to ensure that people would sit awkwardly during the performance, a VIP section that was comically far away from the stage, and lighting that felt ideal for a warm wedding reception. It might be best described as what the set for the "November Rain" video by Guns N' Roses looked like when shooting had wrapped.
An extremely intimate acoustic performance by Mike Peters kicked off the night. Peters, best known as the lead singer of the Alarm and current frontman of Big Country, sang his heart out while strumming away on a black acoustic guitar that had had its top adorned with doodles in white paint. Peters is also the co-founder of the Love Hope Strength Foundation, a charitable group that raises funds and awareness to benefit cancer and leukemia patients. Peters himself is a survivor and his experience was palpable in the performance, particularly on songs like "Strength," an anthem about getting through the harder times of treatment. A fan in the audience took advantage of the intimate surrounds by requesting the Alarm's "Sixty Eight Guns," to which Peters obliged as a final song, and which was met by a singalong, courtesy of the small crowd.
Local reggae collective, the Resolvers, took the stage next, and the while the band itself was as tight, professional, and energetic as any touring act, its inclusion on the bill was a questionable choice. The energy in the room was already one less-than-condusive to a raucous night of rock partying, and a longwinded set of perfectly executed slow reggae and dub jams did not provide the sort of warmup needed to break that barrier. The Resolvers did include a reggae style cover of Pink Floyd's "Breathe" which was a highlight of the set for many in the audience.
Cherie Currie was spotted in the audience signing copies of her book and taking photos with fans prior to mounting the stage for her rowdy set. Currie immediately asked if "this was the lighting for the evening?" and, in a jovial fashion, managed to get someone to dim things a tad and help take some of the pressure off of the uncomfortable setting. Currie made jokes about having entered the "West Palm Beach zone," and quipped about her outfit (black leather from head to toe) not suiting the ambiance, but laughed it off with an "I love you! Let's have some fun!"
The band backing Currie was a young, vibrant, and talented group of men that included Currie's son Jake Hays on guitar. The set kicked off with the Runaways' rocker, "Queens of Noise" and Currie strutting about the stage while displaying a voice that has suffered none from the ills of time. As the band eased into "California Paradise," Currie danced with an audience member and did everything she could to break the proverbial barriers of the setting. However, it wasn't until "You Wreck Me" -- a killer track from Currie's still unreleased new album -- that the walls came down.
Between Currie's own new tracks, classic Runaways favorites, a cover of Suzi Quatro's "Roxy Roller," and closing with David Bowie's "Rebel Rebel," Currie gave the smaller crowd an energetic performance worthy of her legend and an audience ten times the size. The highlight of the night was, of course, the singer's growling and snarling run through her signature song "Cherry Bomb," which prompted a singalong and awkward dance-off for the entire audience. One Love Culture, the promotor for the event, did what they could to bring a great show to Palm Beach County. It is unfortunate, however, that the turnout could not match the experience. The night ended with Currie signing more autographs and once again showing an unexpected level of dedication to her fans.